Thomas Vinterberg

Director, Screenwriter, Producer
In danger of becoming as well known for his good looks as for his movies, Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg entered into the spirit of child's play with fellow director Lars von Trier ("Breaking the Waves" 1996) ... Read more »
Born: 05/18/1969 in Denmark

Filmography

Director (8)

Far From the Madding Crowd 2015 (Movie)

(Director)

The Hunt 2013 (Movie)

(Director)

Submarino 2010 (Movie)

(Director)

When a Man Comes Home 2007 (Movie)

(Director)

Dear Wendy 2005 (Movie)

(Director)

It's All About Love 2004 (Movie)

(Director)

D-Dag 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Director

The Celebration 1998 (Movie)

(Director)
Writer (5)

The Hunt 2013 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Submarino 2010 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

When a Man Comes Home 2007 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

It's All About Love 2004 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Celebration 1998 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Actor (2)

The Purified 2002 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Name of This Film Is Dogme95 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor
Producer (1)

The Hunt 2013 (Movie)

(Producer)

Biography

In danger of becoming as well known for his good looks as for his movies, Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg entered into the spirit of child's play with fellow director Lars von Trier ("Breaking the Waves" 1996), taking a "Vow of Chastity" as part of their "Dogma 95" and finding liberation in the self-imposed limits. Though the tireless self-promoter won both praise and scorn for his half-serious, half tongue-in-cheek embrace of Dogma 95, with some parties sneering he wasn't exactly "reinventing the wheel" by walking in the footprints of Cassavetes, De Sica and Altman, he certainly backed all the talk with a brilliant film adhering to the manifesto's edicts, "Festen/The Celebration" (1998), an expertly paced melodrama employing child abuse as a catalyst to explore unbridled machismo, patriarchal arrogance and the prevalence of Danish racism. His feature debut, "De Storste helte/The Greatest Heroes" (1996), had been a fairly typical example of the "road movie" genre and paled in comparison.

Vinterberg became established with his thesis film "Last Round" (1993), which won the jury and producer's awards at the International Student Film Festival in Munich and first prize in Tel Aviv. He followed with the TV drama "Dregen der Gik Baglaens/The Boy Who Walked Backwards" (1995) and "The Greatest Heroes" before hitting the mother lode of critical acclaim with "The Celebration". Wishing to evoke the dramatic breadth of Strindberg and the cinematic panache of Bergman, Vinterberg unleashed his video cameras (fudging Dogma 95 principles a bit by later blowing the video up to the prescribed 35mm) on an upper-class, dysfunctional Danish family, with friends, spouses and lovers in tow, as they mark the patriarch's 60th birthday. When the oldest son Christian, displaying the melancholy and mordant wit of a latter day Hamlet, calmly accuses his father of incest before the assembled, it sets the stage for a long night (and even the next morning) of revelation, and the frenetic hand-held camera movements perfectly captured the film's nervous evocation of moral chaos. The running gag is how the party never ends, that no matter what appalling act has just been disclosed, the guests never drop their sense of propriety. Their attitude is, "Let's have our coffee."

"The Celebration" is an audacious film, in keeping with its creator's brashness, but time will tell if it, von Trier's "The Idiots" (1998) and Soren Kragh-Jacobsen's "Mifune" (1999) are the only products of Dogma 95's gimmicky genre. Though the style worked for "The Celebration", it must be said that screenwriters Vinterberg and Mogens Rukov supplied outstanding raw material for the experiment, a story so compelling that audiences forgave the film's grainy texture and lack of conventional polish. If the director adheres to the manifesto's rules for subsequent films, one wonders if moviegoers will have continued patience for such a "home movies" flavor. Certainly the onus will be on Vinterberg to provide scintillating tales that take the viewers' minds off what they are missing.

EDUCATION

National Film School of Denmark

1993

Milestones

2005

Directed "Dear Wendy" a film about a gang of youthful misfits united in their love of guns and their code of honor; scripted by Lars von Trier

2003

Directed "It's All About Love" with Joaquin Phoenix, Claire Danes and Sean Penn

1999

Signed to direct first English-language feature "The Third Lie"

1998

First film made under Dogma 95, "Festen/The Celebration", reunited him with Thomsen and Larsen; co-wrote with Mogens Rukov; also contributed an uncredited cameo as a taxi driver

1996

First feature, "De Storste helte/The Greatest Heroes", starred Danish actors Ulrich Thomsen and Thomas Bo Larsen; third screenwriting collaboration with Hansen; picture did not subscribe to Dogma 95 doctrine

1995

With Lars von Trier, issued 'Dogme 95/Dogma 95', a manifesto for making films; declaration of principles ("vow of chastity") included shooting on location in 35mm color with hand-held cameras and no unnatural sound or music and adhering to a very Aristote

1994

Wrote (again with Hansen) and directed the 36-minute "Drengen der gik baglaens/The Boy Who Walked Backwards" for Danish TV; also produced

1993

Thesis film, "Last Round", won the jury and producer's awards at the International Student Film Festival in Munich and first prize in Tel Aviv; co-written with Bo hr. Hansen

Grew up in a journalists' commune in Copenhagen

Bonus Trivia

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The Vow of ChastityI swear to submit to the following set of rules drawn up and confirmed by Dogma 95:1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in. (If a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where the prop is to be found.)2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.)3. The camera must be hand-held. And movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. (The film must not take place where the camera is standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place.)4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera.)5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc., must not occur.)7. Temporal and geographic alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)8. Genre movies are not acceptable.9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.10. The director must not be credited.

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"Europe has a complex about America. Often the American culture is like rolling over Europe; we have McFries on every corner, things like that. So I think it is important not to give in to much and start to serve the American territories with our films. We have to do what we do. And those who want to see it, see it."---Thomas Vinterberg, to John Anderson, in LOS ANGELES TIMES, October 18, 1998.

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"Shooting on video was a compromise I didn't like ... But we couldn't afford it [35mm]. In the beginning I said we wouldn't do the film on video. Then we were told we could have 35mm, as long as we used only three actors. We needed 50. But you gain something from video, namely the hidden camera. You can do things with that you can't with a 35mm."" ... Shooting normally you can shoot the speech and then shoot the reaction shot. But when you need the sound to be recorded at the same time you have to do the reaction shot every time. We filmed a huge amount of material, 64 hours. Sometimes we'd use three cameras at once, all needing sound. There would be booms and wires all over the place. Sometimes we had the actors holding the cameras. In the scene where Christian faints at the reception the sound engineer was swinging the microphone to make a swooshing, dizzy-like sound and Christian was holding the camera."---Vinterberg, quoted in SIGHT AND SOUND, February 1999.

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"Many people in Denmark are quite enlightened and support the values of the welfare state, but due to competition over jobs, there are an increasing number of unemployed and working-class people who are becoming quite racist. And because of very nationalistic traditions, and the fact that the country is small and homogenous, these problems are on the rise ... we have ultranationalistic parties who basically support Nazism. If you look at France, someone like Le Pen, who's a complete Nazi, received eighteen per cent of the vote. It's all over the place and that worries me."But to be completely honest, the reference to the black guy in the film came about because the actor playing the part is a very close friend of mine. He moved to New York and I thought, 'I'll bring him back, I'll have to give him a part in the film.' I think it's quite common in filmmaking for good things to come out of banalitites."---Vinterberg, to Richard Porton in CINEASTE, Volume XXIV, Numbers 2-3.

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